I Have a World Elite MasterCard: What Does That Get Me?

Make sure you take advantage of all the benefits this card has to offer. Here are the perks you may not be aware of.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

When you are searching for a new credit card, you tend to be drawn into the information the credit card companies want you to see. They highlight the signup bonus, the ability to earn rewards on purchases, and the annual fees. But your card might have other benefits that you didn’t even know about. (Wondering what all the hype is about regarding credit cards with lavish perks but that come paired with high annual fees? We break it down here.)

MasterCard is one of the largest payment processors of credit cards in the world. If your card happens to be a MasterCard, then you likely have one of three different types: A standard card, a World card, or a World Elite card. Let’s take a deeper look into all the different benefits that you will receive if you have a World Elite MasterCard. (Considering adding plastic to your wallet? Keep in mind that getting a credit card with amazing perks, typically requires you have excellent credit. If you don’t know where your credit stands, you should find out before you apply, which you can do for free right here on Credit.com.)

Priceless Cities

The idea that life experiences offer priceless amounts of value is something that MasterCard stresses within their marketing campaigns, and that idea extends to their Priceless Cities benefit. As a MasterCard World Elite cardholder, you will have access to packages that include everything great that cities may have to offer. A couple of the current packages available are a trip for two to New York City to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July at One World Observatory or a chance to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway and then meet the cast.

Luxury Travel Benefits

Your MasterCard World Elite card will also allow you to travel in style with their luxury travel benefits. If you need to book a hotel, you can use the Luxury Hotels and Resorts portfolio to find a room. You will receive a bunch of different credit card perks, including complimentary breakfast, and potential room upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, your card might also get you upgraded to business class on your next flight. Luxury Travel benefits will also give you elite status at many different car rental companies and an onboard credit with Royal Caribbean cruises.

24/7 Concierge

Another perk of being a MasterCard World Elite cardholder is that you will have a personal concierge available 24/7. Maybe you need help booking a dinner reservation or you need to find the perfect gift for your spouse. No matter what it is, this card means you have someone who can help at all times.

MasterCard Airport Concierge

If you want to get through the airport a little quicker, then you can call on your MasterCard airport concierge. With this service, you’ll be met at the curb and escorted to the gate when you get to the airport and picked up at the aircraft gate upon arrival and escorted to your connecting flight or curbside. This takes out a lot of the hassles and stresses of getting around airports you’re unfamiliar with. (If you’re a frequent traveler, you may want to check out these credit cards that are ideal for each of the major airports in America.)

Trip Cancellation Insurance

Whether it’s a tropical storm or a major winter storm along the Eastern Seaboard, the weather can cancel flights affecting travelers all over the country. That means if you have non-refundable travel plans, you could end up scrambling. Luckily, as a MasterCard World Elite cardholder, you will have trip cancellation insurance. This will help by reimbursing you for any nonrefundable fees that you might have when your flight is cancelled or delayed because of a covered reason.

Price Protection

Your card might already come with the price protection benefits, but if not it’s included with all MasterCard World Elite cards. If you purchase an item and the price drops within the first 120 days of purchase, MasterCard could refund you the difference.

Extended Warranty

Some stores and products don’t exactly have warranties that last long enough. With your MasterCard World Elite card, the time frame will be doubled on any warranty of 24 months or less.

Priceless Golf

MasterCard put together a bunch of different golf packages for the avid golfer. You could have the opportunity to play one of many Tournament Players Club (TPC) courses across the country. For example, you could book a package through MasterCard for the TPC Scottsdale. This package includes four nights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, three rounds of golf, complimentary breakfast each morning, a one-hour golf lesson, complimentary rental clubs and practice balls, plus a commemorative bag tag. Plus, because you have a World Elite MasterCard, you will also receive a complimentary two-day Avis car rental.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: svetikd

The post I Have a World Elite MasterCard: What Does That Get Me? appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program

Here's how to make the most of your Membership Rewards.

[Disclosure: Our partners are mentioned below.]

There are a few different transferable points programs available, but over the years one of the most popular has always been American Express’ Membership Rewards program. The reason is because of the ample ways points can be used and the wide selection of credit cards that can help you earn points quickly. Let’s take a deeper look into how you can earn Membership Rewards points and the different ways you can receive ultimate value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One of the best ways to receive maximum value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to one of the many loyalty partners. There is a large selection of both hotels and airlines and each of the following partners will transfer 1-to-1 unless noted.

  • Aeromexico — 1-to-1.6
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France/KLM (Flying Blue)
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways — 250-to-200
  • Delta Air Lines
  • El Al Israel Airlines — 1,000-to-20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus — 250-to-200
  • JetBlue Airways — 250-to-200
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America — 200-to-100
  • Virgin Atlantic Airways
  • Choice Hotels
  • Hilton Hotels — 1-to-1.5
  • Starwood Hotels — 1,000-to-333

To get the most value out of each point, you could use them for one of the following redemptions.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Japan

Until recently, the All Nippon Airways award chart was based on distances. That used to provide many sweet spots for award travel. Even though they have changed to a region based award chart, there are still some great deals. One of them is round-trip flights from the United States to Japan. You can fly round-trip in coach for just 40,000 miles during low season and business class for 75,000 miles, also in the low season.

All Nippon Airways From the United States to Asia Zone 2

You could use All Nippon Airways miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Asia Zone 2 for just 55,000 in coach or 100,000 in business class. Asia Zone 2 is classified as Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, India, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Flying Blue From the Continental United States to Hawaii

A great use of Flying Blue miles is to fly round-trip from anywhere in the continental United States to Hawaii for just 30,000 miles.

Aeroplan From the United States to Oceania

Transferring Membership Award points to Aeroplan will allow you to use 90,000 miles to fly round-trip from the United States to Australia, New Zealand or anywhere in the South Pacific. You could make this trip for 80,000 United miles, but what makes using Aeroplan miles worth it is that they will allow you to make two stopovers before reaching your destination. That means you could fly to Tahiti and make stops in both Australia and New Zealand on the way.

British Airways From Miami to Lima, Peru

If hiking to Machu Picchu is on your bucket list, you might want to consider flying British Airways from Miami to Lima, Peru. Because British Airways has a distance-based award chart, the flight in coach is just 12,500 miles each way.

2. Buy Gift Cards

Another way to use your Membership Rewards is to receive gift cards from different restaurants, retailers and for travel. The value you receive will be anywhere from a half-cent to one cent per point.

3. Go Shopping

You could also use your points to shop online with certain retailers. Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com and Newegg.com offer 0.7 cents per point. Other partner retailers give you a half-cent per point in value.

4. Use American Express Travel or Airbnb

There are a few different ways you can use your points on travel beyond transferring them to partners. You can book airfare on American Express Travel for one cent per point. You could also book with Airbnb for 0.7 cents per point.

5. Enjoy Entertainment

If you want to redeem your points for concert tickets or for a Broadway show you can do so through Ticketmaster.com, AXS and Telecharge.com. The value is a half-cent per point.

6. Ride With Uber

You could also use your Membership Reward points to pay for Uber rides. You will receive one cent value per point used.

7. Get a Statement Credit

Finally, you could choose to use your points to receive a statement credit. However, by doing this, you will only receive 0.6 cents value per point.

Cards That Earn Membership Rewards Points

There are quite a few different credit cards that give you the opportunity to earn Membership Rewards points. Below you will find a few of our favorite cards.

Platinum Card from American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express has been one of the elite cards available for a few years. When you sign up you will receive 60,000 Membership Reward points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. You can then receive five points per dollar spent on flights and hotels when booked through the airline and by using American Express Travel. All other purchases will receive one point per dollar.

Earlier this year, the annual fee on the Platinum card increased from $450 to $550. This will put the card out of reach for many people. But before you discard the idea of adding it to your wallet, you should consider the travel benefits. Not only will you receive a $200 airline fee credit, which will pay for things like change fees or baggage fees, you also receive a $200 Uber credit. You will receive up to a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. In addition, you will receive Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors Gold status. Plus, the next time you travel, it will be in comfort. You will have access to the Delta Sky Club, Centurion Lounges, Airspace Lounges and a Priority Pass Select membership.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Another of the elite cards from American Express is the Premier Rewards Gold Card. When you sign up for this card, you receive 25,000 Membership Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. You receive three points per dollar spent on any airfare purchased directly with airlines. You also receive two points per dollar spent at U.S. restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets. All other purchases will earn one point per dollar. There is a $195 annual fee, but it’s waived the first year. Other than the earnings potential, the other benefits can make the annual fee worthwhile to travelers. Each year you receive a $100 airline fee credit. You also receive two points per dollar when you book a hotel through the Hotel Collection. Plus, you receive a $75 hotel credit for qualifying charges.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

When you sign up for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card you receive 10,000 Membership Reward points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use the card at U.S. supermarkets, you receive two points per dollar, on up to $6,000 in purchases each year, and one point per dollar on everything else. Also, if you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a single billing period you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases minus returns and credits. Terms and limitations apply.

At the time of this writing, the EveryDay Preferred also offers a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors. This card has an annual fee of $95.

If you don’t already have one of these cards keep in mind you’ll need excellent credit to qualify. You can see where your credit stands by getting your two free credit scores right here on Credit.com.

Image: AleksandarNakic

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express, Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express and Amex EveryDay Preferred card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

The post 7 Hacks for Using American Express’ Membership Rewards Program appeared first on Credit.com.

6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program

Here's how to get the most out of your Citi rewards credit card points.

If you surveyed a group of people about credit cards, it’s likely they would say pretty much the same thing: Their favorite cards are part of a transferable points program. That’s because these cards tend to have the most flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards. One of these programs is Citi ThankYou. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

Over the past several years, Citi has made several changes to the ThankYou program to help it keep up with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. Two of the most noticeable changes are the selection of credit cards that allow you to earn ThankYou points and the airline transfer partners. Let’s take a look at how you can hack your Citi ThankYou points for maximum value.

1. Transfer Points to Loyalty Partners

One area where the Citi ThankYou program has improved over the past couple of years is with the quality of transfer partners. Unless noted below all partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

  • Jetblue (1,000:500)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Etihad
  • Eva Air
  • Air France/KLM
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Quantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Hilton (1,000:1,500)

While the list of partners continues to grow, not all of them are a good use of your points. To get the most value, you could redeem points for one of these rewards:

Continental U.S. to Hawaii on Singapore Airlines

From the United States, one of the best uses for Singapore Airlines miles is to fly to Hawaii. One-way flights in coach, business class, and first class cost 17,500, 30,000 and 40,000 miles, respectively. Compare this to United Airlines, which charges 22,500, 40,000 and 50,000 miles.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue Promo Awards

One of the best ways to use Flying Blue miles is to book their promo awards. Each month, they release new promo routes and you can save 20% to 50% off normal redemption rates.

Continental U.S. to Mexico on Air France/KLM Flying Blue

Flying Blue includes Mexico in the same flight region as the United States, which means flights cost only 12,500 miles each way in coach.

TransAtlantic in Singapore Suites

If you’re tired of always flying coach, you can splurge and spend 57,375 Singapore Krisflyer Miles to fly Singapore Suites from New York to Frankfurt, Germany. If you’d like to continue, you can go all the way to Singapore for a total of 93,500 miles. But be warned: Flying in coach might never be the same.

Use Etihad Guest Miles from New York to Brussels in Business Class

Most airlines are part of large alliances or have partner airlines. This is great for consumers because it opens up a lot of options when using your miles. If you know where to look, you can find a lot of value when flying. One of the best ways to fly to Europe is to use Etihad Guest miles to fly Brussels Airlines from New York to Brussels. Traveling round-trip in economy will cost you 21,972 miles and business class will be 36,620 miles. If you want a card that earns you direct airline miles, here are our picks for some of the best airline miles credit cards out there.

2. Book Travel on Citi Travel Center

Another way to use your ThankYou points is to book your travel through the Citi Travel Center. This is where the specific card you have will dictate the value you receive. If you have a Citi ThankYou Premier card you can redeem your points for 1.25 cents each. Through July 23, those with a Citi ThankYou Prestige card can redeem points on American Airlines for 1.6 cents each and on all other airlines for 1.33 cents. Afterward, redemptions are 1.33 cents on all airlines. For any card that is not Premier or Prestige, you can book travel at just 1 cent per point.

3. Redeem for Cash

You can redeem your points for cash, but this is a pretty weak valuation. You will only receive 0.5 cents per point, but…

4. Pay Your Mortgage or Student Loans

You’ll receive 1 cent of value when you use your points to pay off your mortgage or student loans.

5. Shopping With Points

Citi has partnered with several retailers, making it possible to shop with your points. However, values fluctuate from 0.6 cents to around 1 cent per point, so unless it’s necessary for you to redeem through shopping, there are better ways to redeem points.

6. Gift Cards

Finally, you can also redeem your points for gift cards for select retailers and restaurants. Most of the time you will be able to receive 1 cent per point with this method.

Earning Citi ThankYou Points

Earning Citi ThankYou points is fairly simple. You can use one of a few different Citi credit cards or have select Citi banking products.

Citi Prestige

When you sign up for the Citi Prestige card, you receive 40,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Then, when you use your card for airfare or hotels, you receive 3 points per dollar. You will also receive 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants and on entertainment. Any other purchase made will earn 1 points per dollar. This card has a steep $450 annual fee, but you will receive several travel benefits, including a $250 air travel credit, which you can use for airfare, upgrades, baggage fees and more. You will also receive a $100 statement credit to cover the cost of either Global Entry or TSA Precheck. If that’s not enough, you also receive your fourth night free when booking hotels through Citi Prestige Concierge. Plus, you can travel in comfort knowing you have complimentary access to more than 900 Priority Pass Select airport lounges.

Keep in mind before signing up for this or any rewards card that your credit will need to be in very good shape to qualify. If you’re not sure where your credit stands you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Citi ThankYou Premier

With the Citi ThankYou Premier card, you receive 30,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $3,000 in the first three months. You then earn 3 points per dollar spent on travel expenses, which includes gas. Plus, you can earn 2x points when you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment. All other purchases will earn 1x points. There is a $95 annual fee, which is waived for the first year.

Citi ThankYou Preferred

If you prefer a card with no annual fee, then the Citi ThankYou Preferred card might be the best fit. You will earn 15,000 ThankYou points after signing up and spending $1,000 in the first three months. When you use this card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases earn 1x points. This card also has an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card for College Students

If you’re a college student you can also earn ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Preferred card for College Students. With this card, you will earn 2,500 ThankYou points after spending $500 within the first three months. When you use your card at restaurants and on entertainment, you receive 2x points. All other purchases receive 1x points. After signing up for this card you receive an introductory 0% APR for the first seven months on purchases. There is no annual fee to carry this card.

Citi Banking Accounts

While you won’t be able to earn a huge number of points through this method, you can take advantage of the banking relationships you have with Citi. Depending on the product, you could earn up to 19,200 points per year.

Image: freemixer

At publishing time, the Citi Prestige, Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi ThankYou Preferred and Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

 

 

The post 6 Hacks for Using the Citi ThankYou Points Program appeared first on Credit.com.

5 New Hyatt Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

These five Hyatt Hotels are brand new and waiting for you to visit!

If you have been trying to figure out your next vacation destination, it’s understandable that you might be a little overwhelmed. There are so many amazing places around the world to experience.

If you prefer to stay at Hyatt hotels, we put together a list of five new properties, in highly sought-after locations, that you can visit with your points in 2017.

1. Park Hyatt Bangkok

If you are thinking about heading to Asia, then a great option would be Thailand and the much-anticipated Park Hyatt Bangkok. This property was originally scheduled to open a few years ago, but delays set it back. Now it will officially open in May 2017.

This hotel is located in the upscale Lumpini district in the embassy complex. In addition to over 200 rooms, it will also have a sprawling rooftop area called the Penthouse Bar and Grill. This will include a restaurant and a speakeasy bar. You will also find a fine dining restaurant and lounge on the main level.

This will be a category 5 property, costing 20,000 points per night.

2. Hyatt House Chelsea

Heading to New York City this summer? How about a stay at the Hyatt House Chelsea? This hotel is located just blocks away from Madison Square Garden, plus it’s within walking distance of the Chelsea Garment District. To make your stay a little more comfortable, you can choose from either standard studio hotel rooms or residential suites with kitchens. This is perfect if you are planning a longer extended vacation.

The Hyatt House Chelsea is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

3. Hyatt Regency Cartagena

For a long time, Colombia was tarnished by the image of drugs and criminal activity. Today, most of the problems have been eliminated and the country is turning into a hotspot for tourism.

One of the most popular draws to Colombia beyond Bogotá is Cartagena. This coastal city is rich with history and amazing food. It’s also home to the brand-new Hyatt Regency Cartegena, the first Hyatt property in Colombia. It’s located right by the beach and easily accessible to Categena’s Old Town.

The Hyatt Regency Cartagena is a category 2 property, requiring just 8,000 points per night.

4. Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa

If you are planning a getaway for some golf and a spa day, then a great destination is the Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa, in Arizona. Guest rooms have a bungalow feel to them, plus you will be able to enjoy one of the three different pools or the Palo Verde Spa & Apothecary. But the best part is the property’s mountain backdrop.

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Spa is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

5. Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach 

If a Hawaii vacation is calling your name, then make sure you make a stop at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach. This is the latest addition to the Hyatt Centric brand, located right on Waikiki Beach. After a long hike up Diamond Head Trail, you can come back and relax by the pool in one of the private cabanas.

The Hyatt Centric Waikiki Beach is a category 5 property, requiring 20,000 points per night.

Earning Free Nights With Hyatt

One of the best ways for someone to earn points and eventually free nights with Hyatt is through the Hyatt Credit Card. When you sign up you will receive two free nights at any property worldwide after spending $2,000 in the first three months. If you choose to add an authorized user to your account, you will receive 5,000 points after they make their first purchases within three months. (You can learn more about the ins and outs of adding an authorized user here.)

When using this card for purchases at Hyatt hotels, you will receive three points. You will also receive two points at restaurants and on airfare booked directly through the airlines. All other purchases will receive one point.

This card does come with an annual fee of $75, but you will receive a free night at any category 1 to 4 property on your anniversary. (Not sure if the fee is worth it? Check out our guide to annual fees to help you decide.) Plus, if you are planning to visit one of the international destinations we mentioned, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Remember, before applying for this or any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit scores to confirm that you qualify. You can get your two free credit reports, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Want more hotel stay hacks? Check out our hacks for free nights at Marriott hotels.

Image: andresr

 

The post 5 New Hyatt Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

5 New IHG Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

Here's how to use your IHG Rewards Club points for free nights at these new hotels.

If you’re planning a vacation this year and are a fan of Intercontinental Hotel Group hotels, we’ve got some good news for you. The firm has recently opened five new hotels around the world — and, if you play your points right, you could score a stay in one free of charge. (Psst … if you’re trying to travel on a dime, we’ve got 28 more ways to save for this year’s big adventure right here.)

Here’s how many IHG Rewards Club points you’ll need to stay in one or all of its new additions absolutely free.

1. Hotel Indigo Lower East Side

If you will be traveling to New York City, then make sure you plan a stay at Hotel Indigo Lower East Side. This hotel is situated in the middle of one of the city’s most popular neighborhoods. During your stay you can enjoy a swim in the hotel’s rooftop pool, or even join a yoga class while enjoying the top-floor views.

A free night at the Hotel Indigo Lower East side will cost 50,000 points per night.

2. Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong

Located in the old Joo Chiat police station, the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is perfect for travelers that want to have easy access to everything the city has to offer. Grab a bite to eat at the hotel’s Baba Chews Bar and Eatery after you relax in the hotel’s infinity pool situated on the roof.

Free nights at the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong will cost 40,000 points per night.

3. InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun

During your next trip to Beijing, stay at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun, located in the middle of the city’s entertainment district. You will be situated close to some of the best bars, restaurants, and markets that Beijing has to offer. Within the hotel you will experience five-star service, with multiple bars and restaurants featuring spectacular views of the city, and rooms that will make you feel rested and ready to go each morning.

Free nights at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun will cost 50,000 points per night.

4. Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay, China

The Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay is located in the largest of China’s Hainan Island bays. This hotel’s tropical location is perfect for anyone who might be in town for pleasure or business. You will be a short ride away from both Nanshan Temple and Mingzhu Plaza. At the hotel you will find both an indoor and outdoor pool, and also a natural hot spring.

The Crowne Plaza Resort Sanya Bay will cost 25,000 points per night.

5. Holiday Inn Manchester — City Centre

Anyone visiting Manchester, England, will have an abundance of hotels to choose from. However, if you want to be located right in the middle of city center, the new Holiday Inn Manchester might be the way to go. This hotel is located in near proximity to many of the city’s biggest venues including O2 Apollo, Manchester Area, and Bridgewater Hall.

The Holiday Inn Manchester – City Centre will cost 30,000 points per night.

How to Earn More IHG Rewards Club Points

Anyone looking to increase their balance of IHG Rewards Club points should look no further than the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card from Chase. When you sign up for this rewards credit card, you’ll receive 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first three months. If you’d like to add an authorized user to your account, you’ll earn an extra 5,000 points after they make a purchase in the first three months.

When you use the card at IHG hotels, you will receive 5x points. Purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants will all earn 2x points. All other purchases will earn 1x point for every dollar spent. This card has no foreign transaction fees, but it does come with an annual fee of $49, which is waived the first year.

Also, you’ll receive a certificate for a free night at any IHG hotel on the anniversary of opening the card, plus you’ll automatically receive IHG Platinum Elite status. This will give you 10% of your points back on redemption. It touts a 16.49% to 23.49% variable annual percentage rate (APR), depending on creditworthiness. (You can get an idea of where you might fall by viewing two of your free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

Of course, if IHG isn’t your chain of choice, there are plenty of other hotel rewards credit cards out there that could score you a free stay. (You can find a few more solid credit cards for hotel hoppers here.) And, if you don’t have a chain of choice, you might want to opt for a general-purpose travel rewards credit card whose points and miles are good for any hotel or airline purchase. Just be sure to pay your balances off on all above in full — otherwise, you’ll lose those precious points to interest.

Happy travels!

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: monkeybusinessimages

 

The post 5 New IHG Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It)

Anyone with kids understands that Disney World is a vacation they need to take at least once. After all, it’s the happiest place on earth. The only problem is, the place is expensive, and it’s only getting more so. In February, Disney announced they were raising ticket prices.

Last year, Disney parks started implementing tiered admission prices based on the season. This was to help fight overcrowding at some of the busiest times of the year.

With the price increase, most Disney theme parks will see mid-tier tickets increase to $107, up from $102. Peak season tickets (think spring break, summer and Christmas break) will increase to $119 from $114. And one-day tickets for the low season will go up to $99 from $97.

Tickets for the Magic Kingdom will cost a bit more for mid-tier tickets, up from $110 to $115, but peak prices will remain unchanged at $124.

Obviously, it gets expensive for a family. Just visiting the Magic Kingdom would end up costing a family of four between $396 and $496 depending on the season. And that’s for just one day at the park. Disney does offer special discount ticket packages, however, so be sure to check out what’s on offer before booking. You might be able to get a really good deal, especially during the off-season.

Of course, there are other ways to reduce your costs for visiting the happiest place on earth. You can start by using the rewards you receive from credit cards, for starters. There are three different cards you will need to make your trip nearly free (excluding food costs).

The Flights

Southwest Airlines is a favorite for many people. They’re inexpensive, they’re friendly and the overall flying experience is considered quite pleasant. Frequently the airline runs sales with prices starting at $59 one-way, or approximately 4,130 Southwest Rapid Reward points. That means for a family of four, it’s possible to get round-trip flights for as little as 33,040 points.

To cover this expense, you can sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card. You will receive 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 within the first three months. In addition to this signup bonus, you will also receive 2 points per dollar on Southwest Airlines flights and on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases. For all other purchases you will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $69 annual fee, but you will receive 3,000 bonus points on every card member anniversary.

The Hotel

A couple of years ago, Wyndham Resorts changed how many points were needed for a free night at any property. Instead of using a tiered system like other hotel brands, they moved to a flat rate. It now costs 15,000 points per night at every hotel.

Located right outside the Disney Park is the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. This hotel is extremely kid-friendly with multiple pools, water slides and themed rooms. There is also a free shuttle that will take you to the Disney World gates.

To cover the expense, you could sign up for the Wyndham Rewards Visa card from Barclaycard. You will receive 30,000 points after your first purchase and another 15,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 90 days. These 45,000 points would be good enough for three free nights. If you and your spouse both sign up for this card, you could earn up to six free nights.

In addition to the points you earn after signing up, you will also receive 5 points per dollar spent at any Wyndham property. Purchases made at gas stations, grocery stores and on any utility bill will receive 2 points per dollar. All other purchases will receive 1 points per dollar. There is a $75 annual fee, but you will receive 6,000 bonus points on each anniversary.

The Theme Park

We have already talked about how expensive it can be to purchase Disney World tickets. Luckily the cost can be mostly offset by the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. With this card you will receive 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days. You will also receive 2 miles per dollar on every purchase that you make.

The points you earn are worth statement credits on any travel expense. Each mile is worth one cent each. That means the 50,000 mile signup bonus is worth $500, enough to cover the costs of four Disney theme park tickets at peak season prices. However, it’s important to understand that purchases at Disney won’t be coded as a travel expense and you won’t be able to use your miles. Instead, you would need to purchase your Disney tickets through either Expedia.com or UndercoverTourist.com.

Another perk of the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card is that you will receive 5% of your rewards back in your account upon redemption. That means if you redeem the 50,000 miles for Disney tickets, 2,500 miles will be put back into your account. There is an $89 annual fee with this card, but it’s waived the first year.

Being Smart About Multiple Credit Cards

One of the big things to consider before applying for multiple credit cards, is that it’s wise to space out your applications. Too many new credit requests all at once can ding your credit scores, meaning your application for your second, third or even fourth card could be declined. Plus, multiple credit cards aren’t for everyone. They mean you’ll have to keep track of multiple initial-spend requirements, plus multiple due dates for your monthly payments.

Also keep in mind that, while the rewards may be attractive, especially if you’re trying to take a free vacation, you may not want (or be able) to spend the necessary amounts to reap those rewards. It’s important to understand whether or not that kind of spending will fit within your household’s budget. The last thing you want to do is end up coming home from Disney World with debt you’ll struggle to pay off.

Whatever you decide, checking your credit scores before applying is an important step. It can help you understand whether you’ll actually qualify for the particular rewards card you have your eye on (rewards credit cards tend to require higher credit scores). You can get your two credit scores absolutely free and updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the BarclayCard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Image: Manakin

The post How to Visit Disney World for Free (or Close To It) appeared first on Credit.com.

5 New Marriott Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free

Let these new hotels help you check off some of your bucket list destinations.

There are a lot of new hotels opening up all around the world this year, including those by the ever-popular Marriott chain. So, before you plan your next vacation, make sure you check out some of the new properties Marriott has planned. One of these might help you cross a location off your bucket list and save you some money at the same time if you’re a Marriott Rewards member. (Note: Marriott purchased Starwood hotels late last year. If this is your preferred hotel, you may want to check out these five new Starwood hotels you can visit for free.)

AC Hotel Portland

Portland has become one of the “it” cities to visit in the United States over the last several years, so it’s no wonder that Marriott’s AC brand of hotels — which can be found all across Europe — is opening a new location in Portland. During your stay make sure you visit the hotel restaurant, AC Kitchen. This tapas style restaurant will bring some of the hotel’s Spanish influence to the city.

This category seven property will cost 30,000-35,000 points for a free night.

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

Any trip to Singapore should include luxury and style. That’s exactly what you’ll find when you stay at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. Located right in the heart of all the major tourist attractions, this hotel features 634 rooms, including 47 suites. There are five different restaurants to choose from, including one from executive chef Akira Back of Iron Chef America. Because Singapore is very much a vertical city, sky gardens are very popular, and the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach has two on property.

This hotel is a category eight property, requiring 35,000-40,000 points for a free night.

Edition Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, is a city filled with art, rich culture, and amazing food. It’s there that Marriott will be opening their latest Edition hotel. This 100-room property will be located in the Ciutat Vella district. If you are looking for the next big party, this might be the perfect place to stay. You will be able to enjoy three restaurants, a rooftop and lobby lounge, plus a nightclub.

This hotel will open later in 2017 and there is no official announcement on the Marriott Rewards category or the price.

AC Hotel Denver Downtown

The mile-high city is one of the hottest places to be right now. Listed as the number two place to live in the U.S., people are coming here to visit from all over the world. If you are thinking about an upcoming trip to Denver, then you might want to look into the AC Hotel Denver Downtown. Located in the heart of the Denver theater district, this hotel is surrounded by bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the Denver nightlife. The hotel even offers Denver’s highest open-air, rooftop bar.

The AC Hotel Denver Downtown will open in August 2017. At this time it’s unknown what Marriott Rewards category this hotel will be.

Moxy NYC Times Square South

Located in New York City’s Time Square, this hip hotel will be geared toward Millennials who are looking to relax and have a good time. This will be the flagship property for the Moxy brand, and will include numerous pop-up shops, restaurants and a sprawling rooftop fitness center.

Moxy Times Square South will open in summer 2017. Its Marriott Rewards category is still unknown.

Earning Marriott Rewards

If you want to score some free nights at any of these properties, one of the easiest ways to earn Marriott points is with the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. When you sign up you will receive 80,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. If you want to add an authorized user to your account, you will earn an additional 7,500 points once they make a purchase in the first three months.

When you use this card at Marriott properties, you will receive five times the points. In addition, you will earn two times the points at restaurants, car rental companies, and on airfare that you purchase through the airlines. All other purchase will earn one point per dollar. There is an annual fee of $85, but you will receive a free night at any category one through five property on your anniversary. The card comes with a variable 16.49% to 23.49% APR based on creditworthiness.

All cardholders will automatically receive silver elite status as well as 15 credits toward gold status. Plus, for every $3,000 in purchases you make with the card, you will receive an additional elite status credit.

Earn Even More Rewards as a Business Owner

Marriott also offers small business owners an additional way to boost their Marriott Reward balance. When you sign up for the Marriott Rewards Premier Business credit card, you will receive an additional 80,000 Marriott Reward points. You’ll also be able to earn the same amount of points on purchases with this business credit card as you can with the personal version. The only difference is that you can also earn 2x points at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services.

The Marriott Rewards Business credit card has an annual fee of $99, but you will also receive a free night at any category one through five property on your anniversary. You will also receive the same elite status benefits as you would with the personal card. However, if you spend $50,000 on your business card in a calendar year you will automatically receive gold status.

Remember, before applying for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit reports and credit scores. Errors on your credit report can bring down your scores, which could result in your application being declined. You can get your two, absolutely free credit scores, updated every 14 days, right here on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: baona

The post 5 New Marriott Hotels You Can Visit in 2017 for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

5 New Starwood Hotels You Can Visit for Free

Planning your spring break vacation? Be sure to factor in these Starwood hotels you can stay at for free.

As we move into spring break season, a lot of you may have vacation plans. If not, then it might be time to start planning a trip. Deciding where to go can be the hardest part of all, as your bucket list of locations may be pretty long. However, if you have credit card rewards, your travel plans will probably be made based on your points and rewards. (You may also consider these 28 ways to save for this years big adventure.)

If you have a large balance of Starwood Points, you might want to consider one of these five Starwood properties that have recently opened around the world. Take a look.

1. Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Located in California’s Napa Valley, this new Luxury Collection hotel is perfect for any wine lover. Most of the hotels’ rooms come with spacious balconies overlooking the vineyards. When not taking advantage of the complementary shuttle, you can indulge yourself at the hotels’ luxury spa. Or you might choose to dine at The Acacia House, the restaurant by Top Chef alum Chris Cosentino.

This is a Category seven property, so it will set you back 30,000 to 35,000 points a night.

2. W Las Vegas

If Las Vegas is more your scene, make sure you check out the new W Las Vegas. Located on the northern end of the Strip, you will find this new property in one of the SLS towers. You will have access to seven different restaurants as well as three entertainment venues and a bar to wind down with a drink. If you want to get out and explore the Las Vegas area, Enterprise Rent-a-Car service is available.

The W Las Vegas is a Category five property, so it will cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

3. Le Méridien Visconti Rome

If you are looking to get out of the U.S., then Rome might be the perfect place to visit this year. This new Starwood property is located in a prime location near the Vatican. If you have ever been to Rome, then you know that most of the city’s hotels were decorated with the renaissance style in mind. The Le Méridien Visconti Rome chose to do things a little differently, going for a sleek contemporary look. Not only does this hotel have the perfect location, you will enjoy its rooftop terrace while you relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The Le Méridien Visconti Rome is a Category five property, meaning rooms cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

4. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

Polo is one of the most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates, and this property sits on a massive equestrian complex. In fact, the St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is host to the Dubai Polo Gold Cup.

The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is a Category six property, so rooms will cost 20,000 to 25,000 points a night.

5. Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin

If you are looking to hit the slopes this spring, you might want to check out the Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin. This chalet-style hotel, situated near Montenegro’s northern city, Kolašin, feels just like you are in the Rocky Mountains or Swiss Alps. And it has the services you require. You will find two on-site restaurants, a rental car counter, and a spa where you can relax after a long day on the slopes.

The Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin is a Category four hotel, which means rooms will cost 10,000 points a night.

How to Earn Starwood Points With Your Credit Card

The easiest way to earn Starwood points fast is by using the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. When you sign up for this card, you will earn up to 35,000 points. You will earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn an additional 10,000 points after spending another $2,000 in the first six months. (This offer expires April 5, 2017.)

When you use the card at Starwood properties, you can earn up to five points. You can also earn two points when you use the card at participating Marriott properties. All other purchases with the card will earn one point. As a cardholder, you will receive a credit for two stays and five nights that count toward SPG Elite status. (You can read more about this card in our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card review.)

You can choose to redeem your points at any of the 1,000+ Starwood properties, including the five mentioned above. You can also choose to transfer your points to one of many different airlines. When you do this, you will receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. This card has an annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year. It carries a variable APR of 15.74% to 19.74%, based on your creditworthiness. (Not sure where your credit stands? You can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Note: Marriott bought Starwood hotels last year — You can go here to read about how this will impact your credit card rewards.

How to Earn Starwood Points for Your Business

If you are a business owner, then you will have even more options for earning Starwood points. In addition to the personal credit card, you will also be able to get the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. With this card, you will have the chance to earn 35,000 points. You will receive 25,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. You will then earn another 10,000 points after spending an additional $3,000 in the first six months. (This offer ends April 5, 2017.)

With this card, you will be able to earn Starwood points the same way you can with the personal card. The business card also comes with a few extra benefits. You will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi at any Boingo hotspot, and you will receive access to Sheraton Club lounges. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. Its variable APR is 15.74%, 17.74% or 19.74% based on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

Image: franckreporter

The post 5 New Starwood Hotels You Can Visit for Free appeared first on Credit.com.

Shattered Your New iPhone? Your Credit Card Might Have You Covered

Smashed your iPhone? These credit cards offer stellar purchase protection policies.

At some point in your life, you’ve probably dropped your smartphone. If it happened to be on the ground, you may have even shattered the glass. If you didn’t have insurance through your carrier, you probably thought you were out of luck. But if you purchased that phone with a credit card, you could have taken advantage of an underused benefit: purchase protection.

What Is Purchase Protection?

Purchase protection is a benefit that comes with select credit cards. It will protect your purchases against accidental damage or theft for a select amount of time. Some cards also include a benefit called extended warranty protection. This is different from purchase protection. Extended Warranty protection extends the life of the manufacturer’s warranty on your items.

Be aware that purchase protection isn’t an indefinite benefit. It typically only lasts for the first 90 to 120 days of owning an item. The exact length of time depends on the card itself. But if you purchase a new smartphone and break it before you can get a protective case, you can rest easy knowing that you’re protected.

So what makes a great purchase protection policy? One of the biggest things to look at is the amount of coverage you have. What if you purchased something much more expensive and it was damaged soon after? You’ll want to make sure you’re covered for that. Some policies actually cover up to $10,000 per claim.

Something else to be mindful of is the length of the benefit. As we mentioned before, most last for 90 to 120 days. You will also want to pay special attention to the items excluded from each card’s policy.

Let’s take a look at five cards that offer purchase protection policies for cardholders.

1. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve (we’ve got a full review here) made a big splash last year when it was released. It quickly became one of the best available cards for travelers. However, it also has some great shopping benefits. With this card, you will receive purchase protection, up to $10,000 per claim and up to $50,000 per year. It will cover theft or accidental damage for the first 120 days.

When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you will receive 50,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. You will then receive three points on restaurants and travel expenses. Any other purchase will receive one point. This card has a $450 annual fee, but you will receive a $300 travel credit each year. You will also receive up to $100 to cover Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check.

The card carries a variable purchase annual percentage rate between 16.49% and 23.49%, based on creditworthiness. (You can get an idea of yours by viewing two of your credit scores, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.)

2. Platinum Card From American Express

The Platinum Card from American Express offers its cardholders purchase protection on items for the first 90 days. The benefit limits are $10,000 per claim, at a maximum of $50,000 per year.

When you sign up for this card, you will receive 40,000 Membership Reward points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will also receive five points for flights booked directly through airlines or with American Express Travel. All other purchases will earn one point. This card comes with an annual fee of $450, but it offers a $200 airline fee credit. There are no interest charges since it is a charge card, meaning you’ll have to pay your balance in full each month or face a steep penalty APR.

3. Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

The Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard offers purchase protection benefits for the first 120 days (90 days for New York residents). You’re covered for up to $10,000 per item, up to $50,000 per year, a spokesperson from Citi said. To get the coverage, you must pay at least partially for the item with your Citi credit card.

You will receive 50,000 AAdvantage miles after signing up for this card and spending $5,000 within the first three months. You will then receive two miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases. Plus, you will receive one mile for every dollar spent on everything else. If you spend $40,000 in a calendar year, you will receive 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles. This card has a $450 annual fee, but you will receive a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. You will also receive complimentary Admirals Club membership. The card carries a variable purchase APR of 15.74%. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

4. United MileagePlus Explorer Card

If big annual fees aren’t something you can comfortably afford, you might want to consider the United MileagePlus Explorer card. Not only does it have a lower annual fee of $95, it offers a purchase protection benefit of $10,000 per claim and is valid for 120 days.

When you sign up for this card, you will receive 50,000 United miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. In addition, you will receive two miles on all United purchases and one mile for every dollar spent on everything else. Each calendar year you spend $25,000, you will be awarded a 10,000-mile bonus. As a cardholder, you will also receive two free United Club one-time passes each year, a free first checked bag and priority boarding. The card carries a variable purchase APR of 16.49% to 23.49%, depending on creditworthiness.

5. Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige is another premium credit card that offers stellar purchase protection. With this card, you will have protection for 120 days and the limits are $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per calendar year.

With the Citi Prestige, you will earn 40,000 bonus ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. You will receive three points on airfare and hotel purchases, two points on dining and entertainment, and one point on everything else. The card comes with a $450 annual fee, but it includes a $250 air travel credit and access to hundreds of VIP lounges through Priority Pass Select. The card carries a variable purchase APR of 15.74%

Purchase protection isn’t the only extra premium plastic has to offer. Here are 8 other major credit card perks you probably aren’t taking advantage of.

At publishing time, the Platinum Card from American Express, Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard and Citi Prestige card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, these relationships do not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuers. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuers.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: praetorianphoto

The post Shattered Your New iPhone? Your Credit Card Might Have You Covered appeared first on Credit.com.

How a Balance Transfer Affects Your Credit Score

Paying no interest can save you a ton of money, but can applying for and getting a balance transfer credit card hurt your credit?

If you’re struggling with credit card debt that you just can’t seem to get out from under, one of the best ways to break free from that debt is to use a 0% balance transfer card. Doing so saves you money in the long run since you won’t be paying interest charges while you work on paying down that balance.

What You Need to Know

First, applying for a new credit card of any kind can end up dinging your credit just a little. That’s because credit card issuers do what’s known as a “hard inquiry” to determine if you qualify for their product. That check of your credit can have a small and temporary effect on your credit scores, but it’s typically more than offset when you’re approved for the new card because your credit utilization improves with the new line of credit. And as soon as you start whittling away at your outstanding debt with your new balance transfer card, your credit is likely to improve even more. (If you don’t know where your credit currently stands, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.)

The five big factors in determining your credit score include your credit utilization, payment history, types of credit, credit inquiries and the age of your accounts. Here’s an explanation of each and how they are potentially affected when you apply for and use a balance transfer credit card:

The 5 Components of Your Credit Score

1. Credit Utilization
What it Is: This is basically the amount your currently owe on your revolving credit accounts, and makes up 30% of your total score. If you keep your balances to less than a 30% of your limit, and preferably 10%, you’ll be doing your credit scores a huge favor.
How it’s Affected: Suppose you owe $10,000 on Card A, which has a limit of $12,000. You’re using 83% of your available credit. But now you open Card B and move all $10,000 onto it (it has a limit of $10,000). You are now using a total combined available credit of 45% (a combined $22,000 on both cards). The new lower credit utilization could help boost your credit score.

2. Payment History
What it Is: This is the most important part of your credit scores and counts for 35% of your total. That’s why it’s so important to make your payments on time and avoid having your accounts go into collections at all costs.
How it’s Affected: If you made regular, on-time payments on the old card, and continue to make regular, on-time payments on the new card, you shouldn’t see any change here.

3. Types of Credit
What it Is: This is worth 10% of your score and in this area, diversity is key, so having a good mix of credit cards, auto loans, mortgage loans and even personal loans will help give you a good score.
How it’s Affected: Since you probably already have a credit card if you’re looking to transfer a balance to a new card, you likely won’t see much, if any, difference here.

4. Credit Inquiries.
What it Is: This area makes up 10% of your credit scores. Too many credit inquires at the same time can drop your score.
How it’s Affected: Applying for a new card will put an inquiry on your credit. As long as you’re not applying for multiple cards, a single inquiry will have a very small effect.  Probably only dropping your score by less than 5 points.

5. Age of Credit
What it Is: The longer you have been responsibly using credit, the better your score in this area. It accounts for 15% of your total score.
How it’s Affected: Once you get your new card, hang on to your old one. Don’t cancel it. Here’s why: You want to keep your oldest cards open so that your active credit has as long a history as possible. Plus, if you close the old card, you won’t get the benefit of a score boost in your credit utilization, as explained above.

Your Credit & Balance Transfer Cards: The Bottom Line

Opening a new account and transferring the balance over should save you money in the long run, and have a positive impact on your credit score — so long as you don’t transfer your old balance and then turn right away and charge up a new one. Don’t expect a huge jump at the very beginning, but as you continue to pay down your balance by making timely payments, you should see some incremental improvement.

But is a balance transfer right for you? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here. It depends on the size of your debt, the interest rate, your income, your current credit score, and how soon you think you can wipe out your debt.

Some of the credit cards with the longest 0% introductory APR offers on balance transfers include:

  • The Citi Diamond Preferred leads the pack with 21 months interest-free financing for balance transfers and purchases. (Full Disclosure: Citibank advertises on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
  • The Discover it card, also offers 21 months interest-free financing on balance transfers and six months for purchases
  • The Citi Double Cash card offers 18 months interest-free financing on balance transfers
  • The Chase Slate card offers 15 months interest-free financing, plus no transfer fee if you transfer your balance within 60 days of approval

One consideration is whether you can pay off your debt during the 0% introductory APR period. If you feel your debt is too big to pay off in 15, 18 or even 21 months or you’re worried about running up a balance on both cards, you could consider taking out a personal loan to pay it off. You won’t get the 0% interest offer, but you will likely get a significantly lower overall interest rate than the credit card will offer after the introductory period ends and you’ll have a set date that your debt will be paid off by. (You can learn more about getting an unsecured personal loan here.)

Whatever decision you make, you can rest assured that applying for an using a balance transfer credit card won’t severely damage your credit so long as it used it as intended. And, if used properly, there’s a very good chance your credit score will improve.

At publishing time, the Citi Diamond Preferred, Discover it, Citi Double Cash and Chase Slate credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

Image: gradyreese

The post How a Balance Transfer Affects Your Credit Score appeared first on Credit.com.